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Chapter 1 : The Cause of Fermentation: Work by Chemists and Biologists, 1789 to 1850

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The Cause of Fermentation: Work by Chemists and Biologists, 1789 to 1850, Page 1 of 2

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Abstract:

This chapter describes (i) the first major chemical analyses of ethanolic (wine) fermentation, (ii) the conclusive demonstration in the early 19th century that yeasts are microbes and cause the fermentation of beer and wine, and (iii) a remarkable attack on these microbiological findings by some of the most influential scientists of the time. Indeed, the first scientific research on yeast was done not by biologists but almost exclusively by chemists, who were investigating alcoholic fermentation. One of these—the great French chemist Antoine Lavoisier— described the phenomenon of alcoholic fermentation as "one of the most extraordinary in chemistry." In order to investigate, during fermentation, the conversion of sugar into carbon dioxide and alcohol, Lavoisier carried out a number of analyses, estimating the proportions of the chemical elements in sugar, water, and yeast paste. Schwann held that yeast cells caused fermentation, because fermentation was constantly associated with yeast propagation and failed when the yeast was destroyed by heat. He also commented that the yeast itself also increased in quantity during fermentation as Jean Jacques Colin had already observed and that this kind of phenomenon was displayed only by living organisms. In 1839, Jöns Jacob Berzelius stated that evidence from microscopy was of no value and that yeast was no more an organism than was precipitate of alumina; he also claimed that fermentation occurred by means of catalysis.

Citation: Barnett J, Barnett L. 2011. The Cause of Fermentation: Work by Chemists and Biologists, 1789 to 1850, p 1-11. In Yeast Research. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817152.ch1

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Alcoholic Fermentation
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Figures

Image of FIGURE 1.1
FIGURE 1.1

Improvements in light microscopes since 1791. Measurements of numerical aperture were made on microscopes in a Dutch museum (2177).

Citation: Barnett J, Barnett L. 2011. The Cause of Fermentation: Work by Chemists and Biologists, 1789 to 1850, p 1-11. In Yeast Research. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817152.ch1
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Image of FIGURE 1.2
FIGURE 1.2

Portrait of Friedrich Traugott Kützing (1807–1893), in 1855. Chalk drawing by Albert Fulda. Courtesy of Meyenburg-Museum Nordhausen.

Citation: Barnett J, Barnett L. 2011. The Cause of Fermentation: Work by Chemists and Biologists, 1789 to 1850, p 1-11. In Yeast Research. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817152.ch1
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Image of FIGURE 1.3
FIGURE 1.3

Portrait of Theodor Schwann (1810–1882), from reference 658.

Citation: Barnett J, Barnett L. 2011. The Cause of Fermentation: Work by Chemists and Biologists, 1789 to 1850, p 1-11. In Yeast Research. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817152.ch1
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Image of FIGURE 1.4
FIGURE 1.4

A microscope made by Friedrich Schieck, microscope builder in Berlin at Halle’sche Strasse 15. The pillar (A) is of brass on three feet (B, C, D), with a cradle joint (E), to which is attached a steel bar (F). The support (G, I) of the tube (K) and that of the stage (N) slide along the steel bar. H is the coarse adjustment, and L the fine adjustment; O is the mirror. Reprinted from reference 1778.

Citation: Barnett J, Barnett L. 2011. The Cause of Fermentation: Work by Chemists and Biologists, 1789 to 1850, p 1-11. In Yeast Research. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817152.ch1
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Image of FIGURE 1.5
FIGURE 1.5

Kützing’s drawings of yeast cells (1172).

Citation: Barnett J, Barnett L. 2011. The Cause of Fermentation: Work by Chemists and Biologists, 1789 to 1850, p 1-11. In Yeast Research. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817152.ch1
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Image of FIGURE 1.6
FIGURE 1.6

Engraving of a drawing of beer yeast by Turpin (2168).

Citation: Barnett J, Barnett L. 2011. The Cause of Fermentation: Work by Chemists and Biologists, 1789 to 1850, p 1-11. In Yeast Research. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817152.ch1
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Image of FIGURE 1.7
FIGURE 1.7

Mitscherlich’s apparatus, which uses a parchment filter to divide a sugar solution into two compartments (1505).

Citation: Barnett J, Barnett L. 2011. The Cause of Fermentation: Work by Chemists and Biologists, 1789 to 1850, p 1-11. In Yeast Research. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817152.ch1
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References

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Tables

Generic image for table
TABLE 1.1

Constituent elements of the materials and products of fermentation

Citation: Barnett J, Barnett L. 2011. The Cause of Fermentation: Work by Chemists and Biologists, 1789 to 1850, p 1-11. In Yeast Research. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817152.ch1
Generic image for table
Untitled

Citation: Barnett J, Barnett L. 2011. The Cause of Fermentation: Work by Chemists and Biologists, 1789 to 1850, p 1-11. In Yeast Research. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817152.ch1

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